Australia's most outspoken priest has chained himself to the gates of the prime minister's official residence in Kirribilli, northern Sydney, to protest the government's treatment of the Manus detainees.
Father Rod Bower is the priest at Gosford Anglican Church, a parish on New South Wales' central coast that's earned a reputation for its politically charged notice board. The church vocally champions a bevy of progressive causes—from the #BringThemHere campaign against offshore detention, to marriage equality.
Last week, the Papua New Guinean police cleared the remaining detainees from Australia's former offshore detention centre on Manus—ending a three-week blockade by some 600 refugees and asylum seekers who'd barricaded themselves inside. Allegations emerged that the PNG police had beaten some of the detainees, and that there is not enough alternative accommodation on Manus Island to house all of them.
Former World Vision CEO Tim Costello told VICE the East Lorengau Transit Centre was completely full, and many men were forced to sleep outside. "They needed to go into West Haus, which is not finished yet," Costello said.
Over the weekend, thousands of protestors took to the streets in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra, marching in solidarity with the men on Manus. Protestors flooded the front lawn of Parliament House, mirroring the crossed arms stance that's come to be a symbol of the detainees' resistance.
A number of refugees have been accepted by the US, under a controversial swap deal that was previously derided by Donald Trump. However, information emerged Monday that some of the detainees on Nauru had been rejected, and others would be waiting until January or February next year for a flight.
"The situation is not good on Nauru, according to rejected families," a source said. "It's all about Nauru [though] nothing about Manus."
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